"Spider and I" originally appeared in The Devil's Food, although I doubt anyone but contributors have seen a copy. As far as I know, none of the authors were paid for their stories. A damn shame. Now the book isn't even available (except perhaps through used sources). Another tragedy. Stories are meant to be read, after all.
I'll post a piece each Friday for the next few weeks, eventually revealing the whole thing.
"Spider and I"
by Aaron Polson
We leaned on a window ledge in our abandoned factory home while the full moonlit the streets below like little silver-grey arteries. An occasional car would skitter down one line like a dark insect. I did most of the watching because Spider was pretty much blind. He couldn’t hear well either, but he had this way of feeling. Spider could feel almost anything about you except maybe the color of your eyes. Sometimes things were harder at night with a full moon. I could see him better with a full moon. I could see just enough to make me want to stay awake all night.
“I’m hungry, Jackie,” Spider whined, “something for my belly, okay? Something crunchy and wet?” His long spindle-fingers flicked in front of his mouth, brushing across his jagged, mountain-range teeth. His black, almost lidless eyes shimmered like fat marbles in the moonlight under an angry patch of brush-bristle hair. He was one of those things parents lied to their kids about so they could sleep at night, one of those things that couldn’t exist in a sane world. Not my parents, of course. They were dead. Spider was just about the only parent I ever had.
“Quit moaning, all right?” I edged away from him, slipping toward the back window and fire escape. A breeze shuffled through the broken glass, floating through the darkness like a whisper. I grabbed an old burlap bag next to the window. “I’ll do my best. Bring you something as soon as I can.” My feet slipped over the window ledge as I hopped onto the creaking grate and rushed down the fire escape.
I climbed, silent and nimble as a cat, into the shadows around that factory. I don’t know what they used to make there, but that building was mostly empty now with nothing but bits of paper and trash, some graffiti, and broken bottles scattered on the floor. We’d been living in that hole for a couple of weeks, always moving to keep Spider fed and the both of us safe.
The building shielded a portion of the adjoining park from the moon, and I walked in the thick blue-black of midnight. During the day, giggling kids filled that park, little kids playing catch and swinging after school, but at night an eerie quiet spread across the grass. The air swam with a cold, moist smell; Spider was waiting, hungry, up in that building. I stopped at the edge of the big shadow for a moment and looked back at the factory like it was some big brick monument.
Standing out in that shaded playground, I heard a dog bark in the distance, clutched the bag in my hand, and turned to follow the sound. Spider was hungry, and the dog sounded like he might be just the right size.